Friday, November 19, 2010

Trusting Health Information

We get our health information from lots of sources: family and friends, of course, and the ever-present Internet, but also the news, those annoying pharmaceutical TV ads, maybe even from an actual doctor. 

An experiment published last month in Communication Research takes an interesting approach and a huge N (555) to find people "were more likely to take action based on the information sourced from a Web site than from a blog or a personal home page." 

I'd hope so. 

But in mass comm, we often dare to research the obvious.  I'm being a bit snarky because what seems obvious still requires verifying and validating.  Plus, from the abstract, there's more to the study; unfortunately I can view only the abstract.  There's a 3-way interaction but trying to understand one is hard enough without relying on a single sentence from an abstract, so I won't even try.

The authors do write, in discussing the main effect above: "The effect was mediated by perceived level of gatekeeping and perceived information completeness."  This suggests to me somehow perceptions of gatekeeping and completeness may reduce the differences found between a web site and blog/personal pages.  I suspect it has a great deal to do with increasing the perception of source credibility, which often plays a role in persuasion.

No comments: